Nina is a Comfort Dental partner in Highlands Ranch Colorado. We submitted her story to “Dental Entrepreneur”. I thought it poignant and of value to both female and foreign-born potential Comfort Dental Partners. These 2 groups, of course, are becoming big pieces of the profession’s workforce. I might also emphasize that our HALF-PARTNERSHIPS are proving quite satisfying for a number of our Women partners who have other life-responsibilities or less income demand. (The lower income part is not actually happening—the incomes for HALF-PARTNERSHIPS remain strong.)
I was asked to share my story, and I immediately became interested because I hope that my story will inspire not only fresh graduates but any female that feels frustrated and thinks she is starting her life from ground zero. I came to the United States from Russia sixteen years ago; I used to be a dentist there. I moved here with my three-year-old daughter and husband who used to be a hematologist/pediatrician. We began working low-income jobs due to a lack of knowledge of the English language, him working as a driver and myself working as a clerk in a grocery store. For a short time we even cleaned houses. I started working on passing the National Dental Board exam. Four years later, my younger daughter was born; I thought it was the most difficult time of my life, but I was wrong. When she turned eighteen months old, my husband returned to Russia due to homesickness and depression at not being able to validate his education in America. I decided to stay because I understood that it was only in the United States that I could give my kids their best chance at a bright future. I was frustrated, broken, and chronically tired working 12 or more hours a day. I would suggest to anyone that doesn’t know what to do or finds their world crumbling around them that they stop and take a moment to consider what exactly they want to get in life, take the imaginary palette in their hands, and draw a picture of your future in your mind using the brightest colors. This is what I did.
In 2006, I was accepted into the International Student program at the University of Colorado, and in 2008, I graduated with my second dental degree. I started to work as a dentist, but I found myself unhappy with long hours, inflexible schedule, small amount of patients, and as a result, not enough money to support my girls. Five years ago, I decided on a big move and purchased a partnership in Comfort Dental. In the years since, I have grown tremendously professionally. Now, I feel I can truly call myself a dentist because I enjoy my work and find myself able to do it well. I find joy in doing little procedures like cleanings and fillings, but I also love to work with prosthetics, crowns, and bridges. My favorite part of dentistry is oral surgery; I’m doing little surgeries such as frenectomies, lingual tori reductions, and implants placement. Lately, implants have become a big part of my practice (15-20% of what I do). I know that there is a massive difference in the dentist I was five years ago and the dentist I am now. I find myself improving every month, every day, with every patient, and I plan on always working on becoming even better with my practice. I work in 6-hour shifts, and my schedule is completely flexible. I have three other partners in my office, and we can cover for each other whenever we need to leave or desire a vacation. I think a franchise practice is a perfect balance of having your own practice and sharing responsibilities and duties in keeping it running.
I have enough time to not only be with my kids and spend quality time with them but also travel. I have been in many, many places over the last five years in both North America and Europe with my family. I was even able to do something I’ve always wanted: a mission trip. My older daughter and I traveled to Grand-Goave, Haiti, where I treated many people needing help, and my daughter helped to build a house for a kind but very poor family. I think it’s important to live by example, and I am glad that I had the opportunity to do something nice for others with my girl.
The money I earn in Comfort Dental is good enough to support my family and help pay for the education of my kids; my older daughter is currently starting her second year in the Master’s of Architecture program at Tulane University. She sent me a card last Father’s Day, saying that I had been not only a good mother to her, but also a good father because she never felt a void or less loved in any way. My girls are my main accomplishment in life, and they will always be my priority, ahead of everything else, so it is very important for me that I can help them achieve what they want in life. Everything that I have achieved in life is because of my mom Tamara and my sister Svetlana, who were always close by, helping me in raising my girls, wiping my tears, and celebrating my successes, my friend and mentor Ilya, who always pushed me toward professional growth, and of course my beautiful daughters, for whom I live. People always dream of a balance in their life – I have found this balance. I have my work that I love, but I also have my wonderful family and friends.
On my medical coat, I have a pin that reads “Fight like a girl”. For me, that means to do the absolute best you can. To all the women reading these words, I want to encourage them to never let their fire burn out, to never give up, and to always strive toward their goals in life. Be strong, because behind us are our families, our friends, and our patients that we have a duty to help. Be happy, because we only have one life, which is very short, and because we deserve it. Paint your pictures of your futures, and don’t hesitate in selecting only the very best, the very brightest colors.
Dr. Nina Gomenyuk